One of the larger countries in western Africa, Niger has a population of more than 18.6 million people, mainly concentrated in the southernmost edge along the border shared with Benin. Out of the entire population, only 18.7 percent lives in an urban environment. Despite the country’s low unemployment rate of five percent in 2015, more than 45 percent of the population lives in poverty. To support residents of rural villages throughout the country, a majority of aid comes from nongovernmental organization workers such as nonprofits. Here are four organizations working to help people in Niger.
- Friends of Niger
Established nearly 20 years ago, Friends of Niger is a nonprofit organization that builds and supports activities related to bettering the lives of Nigerian people. An affiliate of the National Peace Corps Association, Friends of Niger provides grants to that can range anywhere from 250,000 CFA (500 USD) to 500,000 CFA (1000 USD) for proposed projects throughout the country. Some current projects include the funding of a Nigerian team to compete in the International Robot Olympics, the Moringa Garden Project (which helps rural villages grow the drought-resistant plant Moringa) and Académie Bilingue Cornerstone, which raises money to expand access to education in Niger, specifically in rural communities with no schools. You can donate to Friends of Niger online at www.friendsofniger.org.
- CARE Niger
Emphasizing food security and sustainability practices, CARE Niger “focuses on health and nutrition, natural resources management, education, local governance, conflict resolution, women’s empowerment, microfinance, disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness and response” throughout the country. Niger was the first CARE country to integrate Village Savings and Loan Association programs to encourage women to economically raise their social and political roles in society. Since, the organization has turned to disaster risk prevention and strengthening emergency response systems in 150,000 households in extreme poverty. CARE outlines how to help people in Niger through donations, personal fundraising and advocacy programs.
- Aid for Africa
One of the largest networks of U.S. and African-based nonprofits, Aid for Africa works both remotely and on the ground to better all facets of community life in sub-Saharan Africa. Within Niger, in addition to grassroots efforts by Aid For Africa, its nonprofit presence also includes the Worldwide Fistula Fund and Books for Africa. The Worldwide Fistula Fund focuses on protecting the health and human rights of girls throughout the country by providing medical services, doctor training and advocacy. Books for Africa, the world’s largest organization working to “end book famine in Africa,” collects books from around the world and ships them to residents in rural areas throughout Niger.
- RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara
Celebrating 14 years of work in Niger, nonprofit organization RAIN for the Sahel and Sahara partners with rural and nomadic people in the deserts of Niger to better their livelihoods through access to education. To help slowly disappearing nomadic and indigenous peoples, RAIN works on the ground in remote regions of West Africa help rebuild infrastructure within communities related to education. Past projects include the construction of Agadez Learning Center, a center of education for nomadic children, School Market Gardens, providing food for primary school students, and Women’s Community Gardens, encouraging women to take a stand on food security. RAIN offers ways to donate, fundraise, and even volunteer for their nonprofit.
Everyday citizens of the world can help people in Niger by volunteering for or donating to nonprofit organizations such as the ones listed above.
– Riley E Bunch